Declaration of Independence

On June 7th, 1776, Richard Henry Lee made a motion in the Second Continental Congress to declare independence.

Congress felt that if the motion was approved, a proper document justifying independence was needed.

So a committee was created…

The Committee for the Declaration of Independence was also known as the Committee of Five.  Its members included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, John Adams, and Robert Livingstone.

Thomas Jefferson did most of the writing, the other members of the Committee did some editing to his work.

After the Declaration was prepared, Congress actually voted on the motion

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s June 7th motion to declare independence.  Richard Henry Lee was a cousin of the American soldier Henry Lee (a cavalry commander).  Future U.S. president John Adams wrote to his wife predicting that the second of July would be celebrated as Independence Day.

The vote for independence on July 2 is considered to have been unanimous with 12 states voting for independence and one state (New York) abstaining.  Several days later New York voted for independence.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of the document known as the Declaration of Independence.  The Fourth of July is celebrated as Independence Day.

The Liberty Bell was rung for the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776.  This bell-ringing celebrated the first public reading of the Declaration.

A quote from Leviticus 25:10b is inscribed on the Liberty Bell.  “…and proclaim liberty throughout the land and to its inhabitants”.  The passage is about the Hebrew practice of a jubilee.  Jubilees occur once every 50 years.

Most members of the Continental Congress signed on August 2, 1776.  They signed a formal version that had been drawn up on parchment.  Broadsides (posters) of the Declaration were printed and distributed right away after the Declaration was approved on July 4th.  24 of these broadsides are known to still exist.

Since signing such a document greatly increased the chances that the signer would face capital punishment if arrested by the British, president of the Congress, John Hancock, signed his name in a defiantly large font size.

No signers were killed as a direct result of signing but the British did attempt to capture signers as well as target the homes, businesses, and property of signers.  About one third of the signers were reduced to poverty as the result of such depredations during the Revolutionary War.

The Declaration of Independence occurred after the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill.  Somewhat ironically the battle of Bunker Hill was the deadliest battle for the British during the war and the war hadn’t even properly started yet.  (Bunker Hill was fought in June of 1775).

The Battle of Long Island (August-September 1776) was the first major battle to be fought after the Declaration of Independence.